What is the difference between love and infatuation?
“Real love involves commitment to the other person… infatuation doesn’t.
“Real love is more about how I can show I care for the other person… infatuation is more about how the other person makes ME feel.
“True love is based on really knowing the other person… infatuation focuses on the physical qualities and impressions about the other person.
“Real love lasts through disagreements and trials… disagreements and trials often “bursts the bubble” of infatuation.
“Real love stands the test of time… infatuation doesn’t last.”“A great Biblical tool to help determine love from infatuation is found in 1 Corinthians 13. In this chapter, Paul writes about the characteristics of real love. I suggest that you take a look!” (Jim Burns from Homeward.com article, “What is the Difference Between Love and Infatuation”)
Feelings Are Strong
It’s difficult, when you believe you’re in love to think that it could be anything but true love. The feelings are so strong, so compelling. You want, you desire, you believe that what you are experiencing is authentic.
But does it line up biblically with the definition God gives to love?
“We’re told in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-5), ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.‘ But infatuation is impatient, gets angered easier because it’s more about ME and how you make ME feel than how I can make YOU feel.
“Infatuation is in a hurry and ‘won’t pass the test of time’ where love views time as ‘its greatest friend,’ after all, what’s the hurry? Those that love aren’t planning on leaving. Time is something that can be savored and enjoyed by those who are in love.
“Infatuation ‘is purely an emotion, thus is subject to change and wavering’ where love is ‘an emotional need AND an act of the will.’ That’s what you understand better as you read what God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.”
When it comes to love —true love:
“I ask you: Are you willing to turn over to God even the deepest longings and desires of your heart? Can you trust Him with your dreams and future? Are you willing to pass up something that appears good and even desirable for that which is BEST?
“If your answer is yes, then you, my friend, will never reap the sorrow and regret that awaits those who head down the paths of this world. Your fulfillment, and mine, will be unmatched with anything that frivolous dating relationships can offer, if we will but cling to the Savior and rest —truly rest —in Him.” (Kristy Smith from internet article, “Emotions and the Christian Young Lady”)
“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19)
So, when it comes to TRUE Love compared to Infatuation and how it looks in practical ways for those who are Christians, here are a few to consider:
• True Love:
Has a priority to maintain a close walk with God and desires to please the Lord above pleasing a guy.
Thinks more about pleasing self and a guy than about pleasing God.
• True Love:
Desires to please her parents and seeks their approval in a relationship with a guy (whether your parents are Christians or not).
Desires to please a guy no matter what her parents think.
• True Love:
Desires the approval of godly friends and spiritual authorities (Pastor, youth leader, Sunday School teacher) in her friendship with a guy.
Develops a friendship with a guy no matter what others think and does not seek the approval of godly friends or spiritual leaders.
To learn more, please read the following:
• DISTINGUISHING LOVE vs INFATUATION
Are you still wondering about the differences? Chip Ingram “helps you evaluate a relationship and determine if you’re really in love.” To take the test, please click onto the Familylife.com web site link:
As you are looking at the differences between love and infatuation, are you getting the feeling that infatuation is something bad? I hope not. Because it isn’t. It can be fun and lets face it, love has to start somewhere. You don’t go from nothing to love immediately.
“Infatuation is a beginning. The pleasurable feelings it creates are the Creator’s way to stimulate a man and woman to grow interested in one another, which can then lead them to marry, procreate and build secure and happy families. At this early stage couples make their relationship a priority; later they learn to accept differences and show each other appreciation” (Jen Aust, from article What is True Love).
Love VS Infatuation
The problem comes when we mix love up with its beginning stage: inflation. Too many couples are so attracted to each other that they make quick permanent plans to marry before they put the time and work and commitment into making sure they can keep the promises they make with one another.
In his article titled, “Let’s Pursue a Deeper Kind of Love” author, Gary Thomas talks about this very point. He writes, “Neurologically, the notion that we can find that one person to keep sweeping us off our feet is scientifically disproven. An infatuation has a shelf life of less than two years.”
In the same way:
“You can have an MVP spouse, but after a few years together, that MVP spouse will feel like normal, even average. That’s simply the way our brains work. If you cut your MVP spouse in hopes you can sign a newer model, be prepared for the inevitable letdown.
“Neuroscience warns that if you get married because of overwhelming feelings and then break up your family and get divorced because the feelings are gone, the pain you’ll feel over your broken marriage and loneliness in parenting will last decades longer than the next infatuation ever will. You will pay for grams of pleasure by swallowing kilograms of pain.”
What should that mean to us?
Do your “homework” in getting to know each other through the various seasons of the year and the many situations you can “learn through” to best know if your infatuation has grown to a mature love for each other. Make sure that both of you are as committed unselfishly to each other and to God and to resolving conflicts in godly, healthy ways. Don’t allow your feelings to blind you in such a way that you enter into marriage when you shouldn’t.
If you want to learn how to love:
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Single Yet Preparing
20 responses to “The Difference Between Love and Infatuation”
(USA) What if you are already married and realized it all too late that you were just infatuated and it wasn’t true love?
I once had a child outside wedlock. After 8 years I decided to just dedicate myself to God untill I came across this guy on Facebook. We became friends for months till he asked me out and told me he wanted a serious relationsip with me. When I told him about my child he said it was ok by him, so be decided to join my church and serve together. We were both planning to settle but all efforts to raise money seems abortive. He decided to call it quits after so many pressures, later came back after a month which we tried to work it out again by fasting and praying together; but along the line I realized he’s very possessive and agressive so I decided to quit the relationship, but deep inside of me I really do love him so I went back, but for him to say he’s not sure if he’s in love with me or not, so is this infatuation or love?
(USA) Maybe your “lust” is dying down. That happens. We should be married to people that we like how they are. Not the character they do, or the show they put on or how they look.
“Lust” comes and goes in marriage.
(USA/RSA) Beatrice, maybe it is good to search for some Christian wedding counselling in your area. Having sex before being married will cause a crush/infatuation, which obscures your ‘true’ feelings for this individual. I am speaking from experience, and I know how painful it is once you start having doubts about your marriage and its legitimacy.
You have to attempt to find love (even if it starts with God’s love, the ‘in love’ feeling might come later) for this person, once we make a commitment before God who are we to break it apart?
You will find that love grows over years and experiences, and feeling ‘in love’ does die down in many other marriage relationships, just to return later as you find deeper personality traits in this person that you are inspired by, e.g. seeing him as a caring/loving father, or a compassionate person/friend, or in other traits that you might not know about until you’ve been together for a long period, so don’t give up on this marriage until you have honestly tried it all.
A marriage is joined by God after all, give it a serious try. I have been joined with my husband in marriage for over 10 years now, and can honestly say we’ve been through dark times, in many ways, and I’ve seen ugly traits and horrible things in him that almost had me leave and give up, but after all, for what we’ve put in, and for our understanding for each other TODAY, I won’t trade it for anything.
No, I did not truly LOVE him from day one, I was dependent and ‘in crush’ with him, but today I can say it has grown into love. More mature and happy than I could have dreamt for.
(USA) My husband and I definitely rushed into marriage out of lust, even if we did not sleep together. I was not really in love, but I didn’t know how to cut the ties as he was so in love with me. A minister warned me not to marry him because it wasn’t love, it was lust. So I can’t say it was God’s will, but God allows us to do what we allow.
I was desperate to improve the relationship when I realised my error. I read, attended seminars, workshops, conferences, and individual counselling. We also went to counselling together. He was always dragging his feet. Now, over 12 years later, are things better? I am definitely a better person, much more self-aware and enjoy an intimate relationship with God. You can’t change another person, you can only change yourself.
I am not in love with my husband but I love him with the love of God, because love does not involve emotions. He continues to be immature, neglectful, self-centred and offensive, but he insists he loves me. He doesn’t want to improve his faith or his relationships, unless there is a hidden agenda. I stay because of our three children, although they resent him so much I wonder if one of them will kill him one day. They also hate me for not leaving him, which is very sad. But God is with us and will protect us if we look to Him.
(USA) You sound as though there could be some form of abuse involved. If so, please know that this is not God’s will for you or your children. Any spiritual authority in your life that tells you otherwise is misrepresenting your Savior. Please find some good Godly council that really cares about your well being. I hope I am wrong about your situation, but will pray no matter what is going on that God’s perfect will for you and your children be revealed.
(LOS) I have been dating a guy for 6years, but in between we break up, some times for a year, two years and come back together. I was really in love with him, but he treated our relationship trivial. Now he has changed and is showing all the love & care and wants us to get married. He is seriously in love, but all the break ups weakened my love for him.
I see him as a good friend that am fond of him, but I can’t say that am seriously in love with him. I am considering marrying him because he loves me so much and will most likely make a great husband and am hoping that the love I once had will come back. Is this a right decision?
(UK) Hi, never marry someone without consulting and seeking the will of God first of all. Secondly, never marry someone you’re not inloved with, or marry just because he loves you and wants to marry you. Thirdly, if there is something in your spirit that is already doubting this, then you should reconsider going ahead before it’s too late.
(ENGLAND) Hello, first of all I must say am enjoying your article. It’s so true, you have to put God first in everything you do, including your relationship. I myself, am going through a dilemma at the moment. I met this guy a few years ago, loving, kind etc. Then we lost touch for a while. Then we met up again and fell in love all over again.
But a few months ago, he stops saying he loves me. But he hasn’t stopped being a gentleman. Then the other day he says he wants to marry me. I can’t get my head around around this. Because if you stop saying you love someone, why on earth would you want to marry that person?? Help please. Am going out of my mind here. Thanks!
(UNITED STATES) I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a little over a year now. I thought it was love but after reading this I’m afraid it may have been a mixture of love and infatuation. We’re taking things slow (not rushing into marriage, giving ourselves plenty of time to sort out our feelings, etc.) and I’m so upset that I might have been “infatuated” instead of loving him. I really care for him and want to make the transition from infatuation to love. I’m just wondering if that’s possible to do and how so, because I really, truly want to. Thank you everyone!
(USA) I have been dating a man for almost two years now. I was previously married and have two small children from that marriage. When I first started dating my current boyfriend he said he was a Christian and that he found GOD after battling several heavy addictions. We are now living together and have been for sometime now. We are not married and have stopped all sexual intimacy.
I thought that what we had was love but as I grow spiritually I find myself having doubts because he is no longer acting or living the way he was when we first started dating. He has started drinking, not all the time, but it makes me uncomfortable. When I try to explain it to him he tells me how it’s not right for me to attack him and try to take what makes him happy away from him.
I wanted to marry him and still kind of do. But I am confused and am still very young as a Christian. What do I do? Does any one have any advice? HELP?
Christina, There are a lot of articles to read in the topic, this article is housed in (“Is He or She the One”). Please prayerfully and carefully read through them. It appears that you have some “red flags” waving around that you should pay attention to. Please don’t marry hastily. You have a lot to work through.
Also, the fact that you’re living together with two small children (or any children) is problematic –whether you are having sex or not. Please read through the “Sex Before Marriage” topic, as well. Even though you aren’t having sex, there are still problems and some of the articles in that topic point them out.
I pray for you Christina. I’m thrilled that you have given your life to the Lord –that will help you A LOT, as the Lord directs you and helps you to grow. Keep leaning into learning, and the Lord will guide you through this. I pray so.
(INDIA) Thanks so much for sharing your views about Difference Between Love and Infatuation, I love to visit again to see more updates, Thanks.
(07065132944) Someone is in love with me since last year. Sometimes I feel like I am in love with her but sometime I feel like I am not in love with her. What do I do about that?
Hi, I am 32 years old and wanting to have marriage this year, 2013. I registered for website dating and now there’s one guy interested in me after 2 weeks of exchanging of email, I now am his girlfriend. We have not yet talked but only emailed and exchanged pictures via email. Based on my feelings now, I feel so in love with him even though we have not talked yet. He’s a Catholic as he said, and I am born again Christian. Whenever he emailed me he also is saying he’s in love with me.
Do I consider him that he is God’s will for me? Are my feelings real for him? All I feel for him is I want to show him I care and I think of many ways how would I show him my care. Sometimes I am imagining that we’re living in one room and I am doing my household obligation in being as a wife. Is my thinking truly in love? What will I do? Are my feelings right for him? Please help me pray because I don’t want to fail in marriage.
As of now I send him Godly messages because I want him so much. But I want him to feel in love with LORD. How would I win him?
Izza, How I love your heart! You sound like such a wonderful woman of God. But please be careful. What you are experiencing (and perhaps he is experiencing) is that you love the FEELING of love. You love how you feel when you email this guy and he emails you. There’s no doubt that this can be a captivating exchange you have going on. But that doesn’t mean that you are actually in love with him as a person –especially when you haven’t been together. You don’t know him. You haven’t even talked or been together. You don’t know his moods (except what he tells you, and that can be different than reality). You don’t see him day in and day out, knowing his habits, his temper, how he handles upsets, how he would handle it if he were or you were ill or angry, upset or such. You don’t know his interactions with his family and how he would treat you when he is with his family and his friends or how he would allow them to treat you –if he would honor you above them. He could be addicted to substances or porn or such and you would never know. All you know is what he would tell you. Those are not things you can “see” in emails. You have to be together and experience life together more than what you are able to do in emails.
Love is not that intoxicating feeling of euphoria that gives you the tingles and sets your mind going on the type of fantasies you describe. That is infatuation –it’s a fantasy based on an emotional high that your imagination fuels. Love is a verb, as well as a noun. The Bible tells us that it is sacrificial and giving and something you do. Love involves feelings, but it also involves doing… read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, to name just one part of the Bible, and the way in which love is described. But if you haven’t spent time together, interacting and getting to truly know each other, your feelings are based on enchanting dreams of love, rather than actual love.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have those feelings. But it’s important to realize that those feelings are a starting point, a stepping stone to love. But it isn’t the real thing –it’s a mirror image. Love takes time and the opportunity to be together enough to build and mutually sacrifice and interact in good times and in bad.
Keep in mind Izza, that marriage is a holy covenant relationship, inspired by God. It’s not something that a born again believer should enter into with someone who doesn’t love the Lord with all his heart. Otherwise, you’d be unequally yoked. How do you “win” him? You live for Christ and pray that God reveals Himself to him. But you need to guard your heart right now because it is getting entangled with someone who has different values and outlooks. Please proceed slowly and carefully. And unless you sense a spiritual hunger growing in him, please back away. He and you may both be great people, but only time and opportunity spent together will tell whether you will make a great couple, giving and sharing and helping each other become all you were created to be. Not all good people can build a good marriage together. Sometimes they are meant to be good with other people. Again, please proceed carefully.
I hope this will help in some way. I pray God will give you insight and discernment to be careful and to never allow anyone to block the vision God has for you –to love and serve Him first, and then to love BECAUSE of the love of Christ growing in you. I hope and pray this guy falls in love with God. But until he does, please guard your heart.
Very Godly advice. Blessings.
What about people who have used you in the pretense of friendship and hurt you? There have been people in my life who have walked all over me as I tried to be a good friend to them. I never protested knowing that it was hurting me and the other person didn’t care at all. Should we continue to be friends with such people?
I just want to ask a question. Could it be possible that youths nowadays can feel that real love to someone really special to them? Thanks in advance for the answers.
Thank you. Your article is very helpful. I wish when I was a young adult the computer was in existence and I could have had access to all this information then. I once tried to force myself to love some one because I was afraid of being left on the shelf at 23. Fortunately it collapsed as it was not God’s will. I am thankful it did. Because God had, in store, His best for me. His will was more fulfilling. Had I lived outside His will I would have been miserable and the marriage a limitation.